Two PolyU engineering scholars, in collaboration with researchers from RMIT University and the University of Sydney, have successfully used additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, to solve long-standing issues of quality and waste management in titanium alloy production. The research, “Strong and ductile titanium-oxygen-iron alloys by additive manufacturing”, was recently published in Nature.


Dr Zibin Chen, Assistant Professor of the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, and Prof. Keith K.C. Chan, Chair Professor of Manufacturing Engineering in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering co-authored the research paper. They revealed the innovative use of additive manufacturing for the production of titanium alloys and other potential metal materials that results in numerous advantages, including cost reduction, performance enhancement and more sustainable waste management.


Additive manufacturing enables the adjustment of the microstructure of metal alloys to increase its strength, flexibility, and resistance to corrosion and water at a lower cost. Dr Chen stated that more than 10% of off-grade sponge titanium generated in the metal alloy production process can be recycled, which very considerably lowers material and energy costs for industry, contributing to environmental sustainability and carbon footprint reduction.


Prof. Chan added that the research can serve as a model or benchmark for other metal alloys that use 3D printing to improve their properties and expand their applicability.